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Jerome Kern Songbook

Ella Fitzgerald Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.38
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Product Details


1. Let's Begin
2. A Fine Romance
3. All The Things You Are
4. I'll Be Hard To Handle
5. You Couldn't Be Cuter
6. She Didn't Say Yes
7. I'm Old Fashioned
8. Remind Me
9. The Way You Look Tonight
10. Yesterdays
11. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
12. Why Was I Born

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't underate this! May 19 2004
Format:Audio CD
One must laugh when reading these 8 reviews. If only all albums had this much artistry & care! While 3/4 of the reviews are *****, the comments would make one think it was rated much lower. One comment states her range was better on the Mecrer Songbook but she really goes flat on Day In Day Out. Another comment is that her Berlin Songbook is far better but I feel that one was her worst songbook. She was mismatched with the Berlin material. Reallly! It'a all personal taste! Ella didn't have the range of Sarah Vaughan, Eydie Gorme, Jane Morgan or Shirley Bassey but she had other great talents. In the later years when other singers would have been in their declines, Ella smartly picked a new manager & better quality songs & arrangements. She also kept her voice in tact as long as possible. No one singer has all the great qualities. She had so much variety in being able to do scat, straight jazz, pop, blues, & satire. She gave us knowledge of many great songs that would have been otherwise left forgotten. From this cd, She Didn't Say Yes, & I'll Be Hard To Handle are musts to any collection. I can't think of any singer who could have done those 2 better. Ella coud really swing & dramatize at same time. Not many could. I'm surprised no mentioned the at 1st 6 songs are better than the last 6. Here I think arranger Nelson Riddle was doing straight forward pop arrngements for the side A of the orginial lp & being adventurous with the B side. While I see how one may not like Way You Look Tonight, I give it ***** for an unique arrangement. In those days too many songs had to end in 3 minutes. This was allowed time to paint a complete canvas. If one wants a great introduction to a great American composer, start with this, please.
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Format:Audio CD
Ella's Kern collection, with the singer in peak form backed by splendidly jazzy Nelson Riddle arrangements, is an essential component of her complete Verve Songbook masterwork, and a triumph of content over form. Coming late in the series, the project unfortunately received short shrift as a single-LP album whereas two or more discs had been the norm for prior Songbooks. While the songs themselves are an adequate sampling of Kern standards, there is simply not enough space on one disc to do justice to Kern's wealth of composition. A multi-disc boxed set (similar to Fitzgerald's grandiose Gershwin and Ellington Songbooks), with material ranging from extensive selections from Show Boat and Roberta to lesser-known gems from the P. G. Wodehouse Princess Theater shows, would have been ideal for Kern; but alas! this was not to be, as the Verve Songbook series was then perceived as having run its course. The magnificent performances of Fitzgerald and the Riddle orchestra more than atone for this unintended slight to a great American composer. Whatever its shortcomings, the album is not to be missed by followers of the artists, Kern, musical theatre or the American popular song.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It COULD be cuter ... Nov. 28 2000
By PDB
Format:Audio CD
While she was on the broad, lofty, sunlit plateau that corresponds with the 'peak' in other singers' careers, Ella Fitzgerald was barely capable of singing a bum note, let alone recording a weak album. However, within the context of that supremely polished, summative exploration of American popular music, the 'Songbook' series, the 1963 entry devoted to Jerome Kern is, in my view, the nearest to an indifferent collection. It should have been a cracker - Kern's constantly surprising refrains, Nelson Riddle's near-infallible sense of the most suitable arrangement, Fitzgerald's peerless, understated sensitivity to mood and melody.
In fairness, had this been the only Songbook that Ella ever recorded, it would still be a fine achievement by any standards. And there are many pleasures here. There is the characteristically subtle and un-obvious ordering of material - for instance, the album begins, aptly, with the relatively little-known but utterly charming 'Let's Begin' rather than the crowd-pleasing 'A Fine Romance' (which comes next) and ends on an unexpectedly low-key note with a desolate rendering of 'Why Was I Born?' There are some moments of pure loveliness unsurpassed in any of Ella's or Riddle's other recordings: just listen to the way they build and round out that exquisite rising phrase in 'I'm Old Fashioned' - " But sighing sighs, holding hands/ These my heart understands ..."
However, there is something slightly lackluster about the proceedings, and certain elements just don't work. For example, Riddle very seldom misjudged pace with any of his collaborators, but the tempo of 'The Way You Look Tonight' - which should have been one of the jewels in Ella's songbook crown - is slow to the point of being funereal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ella & Nelson - A Composer's Dream Feb. 22 2000
Format:Audio CD
If you thought Ella, Nelson and the Gershwins were unbeatable, think again!
Here the accent is on one composer with several different lyricists - Mercer, Hammerstein, Harbach and Fields. I've never been a great fan of Hammerstein (much preferred Rodgers with Hart rather than the legendary "O"), however the lyrics Oscar provided for the songs chosen for this recording were certainly not "as corny as Kansas in August". Ella's version of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" is pure and simple. She wisely avoided the usual reading of "when he goes away-AY, that's a rainy day-AH" and sings it in her own understated, but elegant, manner.
I've read some many articles about Ella's lack of emotion and feeling, it almost sickens me. I think that many people confuse emotion and feeling with hysterical histrionics. Not so! She gets just the right old fashioned feeling in "I'm Old Fashioned". "Remind Me" is just the right vehicle to showcase Ella's ability to hold her tongue firmly in cheek and kiss the guy off and beckon him back.
Listen to Ella's humorous treatments of "I'll Be Hard to Handle", "Let's Begin" and, most notably, "She Didn't Say Yes". The humor is not "Ha, Ha, Ha! " It's all so subtle, it's pure magic. She was not only a composer's dream, she was a lyricist's dream as well!
Nelson Riddle continued to provide the "best of the best" arrangements. He certainly knew when to stay in the background and when to come out swinging. This is just one totally enjoyable recording.
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